Moving with music, the intertwining Portuguese language, and the thrill of pushing yourself to new limits make a class at Capoeira Atlanta electric. Master Muriel Ribeiro says the Brazilian martial art classes are about much more than just physical health.
“I need to control not just my body. I need to control my brain. My mind.”
Ribeiro was first introduced to capoeira when he was a child growing up in Brazil.
“I saw capoeira the first time, it was when I was 6 years old, but I was a weak child. And, I saw capoeira, and the people that play capoeira, they are very strong, and they play capoeira without the shirt. And, I was a little scared about that.”
He would not come back to the practice until he was a teenager. But, he was hooked immediately, and it became his life’s passion. After training in São Paulo, he taught and traveled throughout the United Sates, eventually settling in Atlanta, Georgia to found Capoeira Atlanta in 2006.
Here students learn the history of the discipline.
“Capoeira is Brazilian Martial Art created in Brazil by slaves. And, we had a mix: the natives of Brazil, the first slave, and the second was the African slaves. Both slaves together created capoeira.”
Ribeiro explains the movements of capoeira were meant to mimic dancing, with an open stance and without clinched fists, in order for the slaves to fool their captors.
“When the owner of the farm comes to see the slaves, they just do beautiful things. They start to do cartwheels, jumps, things like that, and the owner of the farm said, ‘Ok, you can keep doing that.’ When the owner of the farm turns around and walks away, the slaves start to kick and escape and practice the martial art.”
Ribeiro says capoeira is about working together and not against one another.
“This mentality is from the slaves. Why? Because if I am a slave, you are a slave, we need to work together. I need to teach you a little bit of what I know, and you need to teach me back and don’t have competition. Because if we have competition, I am going to hurt you, or you are going to hurt me. And, the next day, if we have the opportunity to be free, I can’t because you hurt me. You break my knee. You break my leg. How am I going to escape?”
Capoeira Atlanta offers classes for anyone from children to adults in Buckhead, Midtown, and Sandy Springs. They even have classes dedicated the music that is essential to capoeira.
Ribeiro says he has trained in other martial arts, but to him, capoeira is unique.
“We have the Brazilian culture. We like to hug, talk, have some conversation. In this way, we learn much more.”
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